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What Lessons Are There in Shane Warne’s Twitter rant about Brittish Airways?

July 7, 2010

[tweetmeme]There has been a lot of reporting on Shane Warne’s recent rant via Twitter about his Brittish Airways flight between London and Las Vegas.  The high profile cricketer had much to say, including the following:

What hasn’t been commented on is Brittish Airways total lack of response (well, as far as I can find); the silence is deafening.  BA does have a twitter account @British_Airways and is active on Twitter and has responded to other complaints around the same time:

But, apparently complete silence on the high profile Shane Warne. Mystifying. Or is this a new tactic (otherwise known as “the Emu strategy”).

What are the lessons here? Following are some thoughts:

  1. This is a classic example of how social media can negatively impact your brand. However it’s also simply the classic example of customer feedback and how it is dealt with. Negative feedback is just as important as positive feedback, if not more so, as it gives a company true insight into where service improvements can be made.
  2. This could be handled by BA as a great PR opportunity. My father always used to say (and it’s probably a famous quote from someone) “It’s not the mistakes you make that are important; it’s the way you fix them”. Social media is a great public forum; ideal for fixes.
  3. Is BA monitoring its’ brand on social media? Is it possible that these tweets weren’t picked up until they were quoted in newspapers and on-line forums around the world? Monitoring is so important. With the tools available today companies can get instant social media feedback on their brands. If BA were really “switched on”, these tweets could have been picked up and addressed at the time.
  4. Does BA have a crisis management strategy? Again, there has been much reporting on BA’s handling of recent strikes via social media and even positive comparisons to Nestle. But they knew the strikes were coming in advance. What about their response to negative social media press as it happens?

In summary, all companies (whether actively engaged in social media or not) should at the very least:

  • monitor what is being said about them and their brands and employees via social media
  • have a strategy to deal with any social media crisis that occurs (include a reputable social media lawyer)

Any thoughts on this?

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One Comment
  1. Hi Vivienne
    I’m going to side with BA on this one. I think the dignified silence response was actually the best strategy in this instance. Warne is guilty of a trend that I see a lot with tools like Twitter – queue jumping and the more insidious ‘rant and run’. Unfortunately we’ll no doubt see more examples of celebrities using tools like Twitter, Facebook etc to unleash on those who are trying to do a job and make a living.

    This expectation that a company must respond to every negative comment or tweet is misplaced and interestingly we are seeing a number of large companies realise this and start to be more selective in how, when, and why they respond – Comcast is the most notable example of this.

    Frank Eliason from Comcast recently commented about this in a Google Group:
    * Many never respond to our offer to help
    * 2000 tweets per week, 25% responded to, 15% turn into conversations

    Having said that, I do agree broadly with your points about the need to be listening and prepared in the event of a negative situation.

    Being prepared will be a challenge for most organisations. The bigger challenge though is confronting cultural barriers within the business – breaking down years of message control and moving to a model where open honest dialogue is valued more than secrecy or the desire to run to the lawyers to seek to kill off negative feedback…

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